To clarify before going into this, it is good to live dangerously for God–but there are some real problems that arise when we teach this. I’ll check back in with you after the post. –Michael
We are called to live dangerously for God, refusing to take the easy route that seeks to reap the benefits of a relationship with God with none of the risk. It has been truly incredible to watch this truth be rediscovered in the Christian community over the past few years; once someone recognizes that truth and lives it out, the impact on their life inspires another to try it, and thus it has spread like wildfire. People like Francis Chan have been speaking about this for years, encouraging people to not “hug the balance beam”, but instead to get up and do something spectacular and risky for God. If we lived like this, the world would be a better place.
This is the message that our churches, writers, and speakers are constantly sending to an often lethargic community, and it deserves to be listened to. I am a passionate advocate for living a life completely dedicated to God—being able to sing that you have truly surrendered all to the blessed savior is revolutionary to your relationship with Him! The more time goes on, the more I have come to realize how little my life, time, and possessions are for me, learning to dedicate them to others; this has brought me closer to God in every possible way. However, one question has doggedly followed me for months:
What harm might we be inflicting through this teaching?
Whenever lifestyles or mentalities are advocated, there is a possibility that the good and important truth being shared will be communicated incorrectly or misunderstood. When this happens, it can destroy relationships with God, tear families apart, break minds, and wreak havoc upon us. The message received is more important than the message sent for this very reason!
When this doctrine of living a life completely dedicated to God is being shared, the message that is often received is extremely different than what was sent: there are Super-Christians who live a certain way. These ‘ideal Christians’ volunteer at the church on Sundays, move to under-developed neighborhoods to minister, and give away large quantities of their paycheck. They have a tragically cool and spiritual air about them as they live a life of constant sacrifice; if you grab a drink with them sometime, you’ll see the passion in their eyes as they share their story and encourage you to do the same. These are all wonderful and good things, but when shared as the way to live a life dedicated to God, they become a cancer, infecting believers and slowly destroying their spiritual life!
Everyone is called to live a life completely dedicated to God, but though the calling is the same, the paths are different. Some are called to minister in another country, others to serve in the inner city, and some to bless suburbia. Christians are needed in rural farms, crowded tenements, mud huts, gated neighborhoods, and cul-de-sac homes. When we look to an archetype as a model for our lives, we run the risk of missing or disobeying the calling that God has given us for our lives! The problem with archetypes is that they leave no room for variety. They send the message, “This is the best way, and everything else is lesser.” Even Paul dealt with this—his Christian archetype didn’t get married, instead focusing all that energy directly on God, even though God created marriage and says it is a good and wonderful thing.
Where does the struggling artist fit into the Christian male archetype of being fiscally stable and being the main monetary provider for his family? Where does the single mother who works two jobs to provide for her children fit into the archetype of the stay-at-home mom? If all Christians were to be urban missionaries, leaving all behind and giving away all their money, who would minister to the suburbs?
When we idolize certain paths of life, we ostracize members of our own family, making them feel like a less valid Christian than these promoted archetypes. Jesus called doctors, fishermen, women and men, warriors and peacemakers, rich and poor, and He did not alienate one of them or objectify a calling. The only calling that Jesus raised above the rest was the calling to become a child of God, and that calling is extended to all.
Don’t look to others for your standard of life. Don’t make another’s calling as your own—listen for God’s guidance in your own life. Following that is the most extreme and radical thing you could do, and you will find your place there. Don’t go along with the Christian trends to try and live a life pleasing to God: listen to what God is telling you, and do that. A.W. Tozer had it right when he said that the ‘secret to saintliness’ was found in submerging our wills in God’s will. Doing that is the most radical thing you could do.
Well, there you have it. So, have you ever felt marginalized or like a bad Christian because you weren’t doing what people were talking about from the pulpit? I have. I want to hear your story though–comment below or reach out on social media! Subscribe to get my weekly posts sent to you.